Whenever my personal and professional task lists are overflowing, I remind myself to slow down, meditate and let the universe speak to me. Intuitively, one would say that overflowing lists mean doing, not thinking. However, I find myself feeling like an unguided missile when I run to do things without thinking them through first.
Once the stay-at-home orders from the pandemic began, I was heartened by the news that my business was considered “essential,” meaning I could open my office with an abundance of caution. This provided me with some level of a routine that did not include trips to the refrigerator nor any conflicts with another homebound worker. But for a time, going to the office became a bit depressing. The roads were empty. My office building is virtually empty. Staff works from home. I began to feel adrift, like one of those Star Trek episodes where Captain Kirk is alone on the Enterprise in search of his crew and other signs of life.
Added to this was the uncertainty a number of our clients were feeling; the COVID-19 and energy sector-induced stock-market freefall; the millisecond opportunities to apply for the Payroll Protection Program and SBA emergency loans; missing stimulus checks; and crashing unemployment sites. It was time for a mental reset. It was time to concentrate on gratitude.
I restarted daily journaling on April 1. The first question to answer in my journaling is, "What am I grateful for?" Gratitude gives perspective. Among the things I am grateful for: I have wonderful friends and clients; my health is good (in fact, I've lost 44 lbs. since Memorial Day 2019); my family is well; and I have my wits about me.
During one journaling session a thought came to me: If we can't be sure what tomorrow brings, why not reach out to everyone I know—and people who've positively impacted me, though I’ve never met them—and tell them why I am grateful to know them. One day I watched an online seminar from an Illinois-based financial writer and advisor named Ellen Rogin. The webinar was about the ways financial advisors can cope with stress. Ellen began by noting that most people become distracted with objects beyond the presentation—their phones, emails, notepads, files—and eventually stop listening. Instead, Ellen asked the audience to follow her instruction through breathing exercises, to calm the mind and still the soul. I thought that and the rest of her presentation were terrific. I wrote her an email expressing my gratitude for the presentation—and she turned it into a column for her newsletter!
Saying please and thank you are always good habits. Telling someone they've made a difference in your life elevates their day into something special. Having someone express their gratitude for you makes you feel, even for a brief while, that life is truly worth living, that things aren’t as bad for you as they could be, and that while you walked this Earth you mattered.